The Story of Jesus ('Isa)
Imam Ibn Kathir Ad-Dimashqi
eBook: Stories of the Prophets
In many verses of the Glorious Qur'an Allah the Exalted denied the claim of the Christians that He has a son. A delegation from Nagran came to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). They began to talk about their claim about the Trinity, which is that Allah is three in one, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, with some disagreement among their sects. That is why Allah affirmed in many verses of the Qur'an that Jesus is a slave of Allah, whom He molded in the womb of his mother like any other of His creatures, and that He created him without a father, as He created Adam without a father or a mother.
Allah the Almighty said: Allah chose Adam, Noah, the family of Abraham and the family of Imran above the Alamin (mankind and jinns)(of their times). Offspring, one of theo other, and Allah is All-Hearer, All-Knower.
Remember when the wife of Imran said: "O my Lord! I have vowed to You what (the child that) is in my womb to be dedicated for Your services (free from all worldly work; to serve Your Place of worship), so accept this, from me. Verily, You are the All-Hearer, the All Knowing."
Then when she delivered her (child Mary), she said: "O my Lord! I have delivered a female child," and Allah knew better what she delivered, - "and the male is not like the female, and I have named her Mary, and I seek refuge with You (Allah) for her and for her offspring from Satan, the outcast."
So her Lord (Allah) accepted her with goodly acceptance. He made her grow in a good manner and put her under the care of Zechariah. Every time he entered Al-Mihrab (a praying place or a private room), he found her supplied with sustenance.
He said: "O Mary! From where have you got this?"
She said: "From Allah. Verily, Allah provides sustenance to whom He wills, without limit." [Ch 3:33-37 Quran]
Allah declared that He had elected Adam (pbuh) and the elite of his offspring who obey Allah. Then He specified the family of Abraham (pbuh), which includes the sons of Ishmael (pbuh), and the family of Imran, the father of Mary.
Muhammad Ibn Ishaaq stated that he was Imran Ibn Bashim, Ibn Amun, Ibn Misha, Ibn Hosqia, Ibn Ahriq, Ibn Mutham, Ibn Azazia, Ibn Amisa, Ibn Yamish, Ibn Ahrihu, Ibn Yazem, Ibn Yahfashat, Ibn Eisha, Ibn Iyam, Ibn Rahba am, Ibn David (Dawud).
Prophet Zakariyah's (pbuh) wife's sister had a daughter named Hannah. She was married to Imran, a leader of the Israelites. For many years, the couple remained childless. Whenever Hannah saw another woman with a child, her longing for a baby increased. Although years had passed, she never lost hope. She believed that one day Allah would bless her with a child, on whom she would shower all her motherly love.
She turned to the Lord of the heavens and the earth and pleaded with Him for a child. She would offer the child in the service of Allah's house, in the temple of Jerusalem. Allah granted her request. When she learned that she was pregnant, she was the happiest woman alive, and thanked Allah for His gift. Her overjoyed husband Imran also thanked Allah for His mercy.
However, while she was pregnant her husband passed away. Hannah wept bitterly. Alas, Imran did not live to see their child for whom they had so longed. She gave birth to a girl, and again turned to Allah in prayer: "O my Lord, I have delivered a female child," and the male is not like the female, "and I have named her Mary, and I seek refuge with You (Allah) for her and her offspring from Satan, the outcast." [Ch 3:36 Quran]
Hannah had a big problem in reference to her promise to Allah, for females were not accepted into the temple, and she was very worried. Her sister's husband Zakariyah, comforted her, saying that Allah knew best what she had delivered and appreciated fully what she had offered in His service. She wrapped the baby in a shawl and handed it over to the temple elders. As the baby was a girl, the question of her guardianship posed a problem for the elders. This was a child of their late and beloved leader, and everyone was eager to take care of her. Zakariyah said to the elders: "I am the husband of her maternal aunt and her nearest relation in the temple; therefore, I will be more mindful of her than all of you."
As it was their custom to draw lots to solve disagreements, they followed this course. Each one was given a reed to throw into the river. They had agreed that whoever's reed remained afloat would be granted guardianship of the girl. All the reeds sank to the bottom except Zakariyah's. With this sign, they all surrendered to the will of Allah and made him the guardian.
To ensure that no one had access to Mary, Zakariyah built a separate room for her in the temple. As she grew up, she spent her time in devotion to Allah. Zakariyah visited her daily to see to her needs, and so it continued for many years. One day, he was surprised to find fresh fruit, which was out of season in her room. As he was the only person who could enter her room, he asked her how the fruit got there. She replied that these provisions were from Allah, as He gives to whom He wills. Zakariyah understood by this that Allah had raised Mary's status above that of other women.
Thereafter, Zakariyah spent more time with her, teaching and guiding her. Mary grew to be a devotee of Allah, glorifying Him day and night.
Ali Ibn Abi Talib narrated that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: "The best of the world's women is Mary (in her lifetime), and the best of the world's women is Khadija (in her lifetime)." (Sahih Al-Bukhari)
Abu Musa Al-Ashari also narrated that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: "Many among men attained perfection but among women none attained perfection except Mary the daughter of Imran, and Asiya the wife of Pharaoh, and the superiority of Aisha to other women is like the superiority of Tharid (an Arabic dish) to other meals."
While Mary was praying in her temple, an angel in the form of a man appeared before her. Filled with terror, she tried to flee, praying: "Verily! I seek refuge with the Most Beneficent (Allah) from you, if you do fear Allah."
The angel said: "I am only a Messenger from your Lord, (to announce) to you the gift of a righteous son."
She said: "How can I have a son, when no man has touched me, nor am I unchaste?"
He said: "So (it will be), your Lord said: 'That is easy for me (Allah): And (We wish) to appoint him as a sign to mankind and a mercy from Us (Allah), and it is a matter (already) decreed, (by Allah).'" [Ch 19:18-21 Quran]
The angel's visit caused Mary great anxiety, which increased as the months went by. How could she face giving birth to a child without having a husband? Later, she felt life kicking inside her. With a heavy heart, she left the temple and went to Nazareth, the city in which she had been born where she settled in a simple farm house to avoid the public.
But fear and anxiety did not leave her. She was from a noble and pious family. Her father had not been an evil man nor was her mother an impure woman. How could she prevent tongues from wagging about her honor?
After some months, she could not bear the mental strain any longer. Burdened with a heavy womb, she left Nazareth, not knowing where to go to be away from this depressing atmosphere.
She had not gone far, when she was overtaken by the pains of childbirth. She sat down against a dry palm tree, and here she gave birth to a son. Looking at her beautiful baby, she was hurt that she had brought him into the world without a father. She exclaimed: "I wish I had died before this happened and had vanished into nothingness!"
Suddenly, she heard a voice nearby: "Grieve not, your Lord has placed a rivulet below, and shake the trunk of this tree, from which ripe dates will fall. So eat and drink and regain the strength you have lost; and be of good cheer, for what you see is the power of Allah, Who made the dry palm tree regain life, in order to provide food for you." For a while she was comforted by Allah's miracle, for it was a sure sign of her innocence and purity.
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